Game Freak released Pokemon Y for the 3DS in October of 2013. The series has effectively become an empire over the past 15 years, giving this new addition a lot to live up to. Often times marketed to kids in the beginning, the Pokemon games of today are challenged with appealing not only to todays children, but also to those of us who were fans when it originally appeared and are now adults. How can this be accomplished in one game? How well did Game Freak actually manage to do this?
Unlike previous games in this franchise, Pokemon Y has a much more fast-paced opening. This is excellent news to the Pokemon veterans, as they will no longer have to drag their character through an hour of slow tutorials and limited options. Luckily, this is done in such a way as to not be confusing to those who are inexperienced with Pokemon games. The result is an action-packed first hour that effectively explains the game play and introduces the player to many opportunities to battle and collect different Pokemon and even acquire their first gym badge. Overall, this feature appears to be an improvement over past games.
Introducing the very first entirely 3D game in the franchise, Game Freak has made it a stunningly successful transition. Without mentioning any spoilers, experienced Pokemon trainers should look forward to the way their favorite Pokemon will look in the new 3D game. Whether vicious or adorable, many of the returning favorites have been incredibly revamped.
One long-awaited change made is the ability to create a customized avatar. It is refreshing to be able to express yourself and how you would like to appear to the many other players in the game with more than choosing your gender. While it is not yet fully customizable, you may change your skin tone. An addition of many different accessories allows for even more personalized characters.
Unfortunately the story line and character development are very similar to the other games. With such a large adult fan base, Game Freak should aim to create less linear plots and NPCs. Considering how much of this game is played in a single-player RPG style, the story and characters within is a large portion of the players entertainment.
Luckily for the experienced trainers, the main feature of the game is not drastically changed from its successful predecessors. The actual trading and battling will be similar in many ways to the previous games. A few small tweaks and improvements have been made. These minute changes seem to eliminate some of the more tedious work between battles.
There is one rather important alteration to battle, however. Mega Evolutions are transformations for Pokemon that can actually change their type. This adds a large strategic feature to the battle system. The players original six-Pokemon roster is effectively increased by one, because the Pokemon the player chooses can be Mega Evolved into a different type. For example, evolving one Pokemon to a different type can remove its weakness to a certain element. Because this adds so many different possibilities for battle outcomes and grants the player a huge advantage, there are a few limits set in place by the developer to even out the gameplay. Only one Mega Evolution may be summoned in each battle, and not every Pokemon that can be obtained has a Mega Evolution capability. While the in-game AI still has trouble understanding elemental reactions and weaknesses, PvP battles have a much more strategic feel due to this new feature.
Lastly, the changes made to the multiplayer mode, the Player Search System. It was introduced in earlier games and has been gracefully improved upon. This allows PvP battles and trades to be done more quickly and easily. The improvements also allow players to show off their customizable content easily.
Game Freak has produced an excellent new game in this long-standing series. Tackling another Pokemon game cannot be an easy task. Making a game playable for young, new players and entertaining for the veteran fans is always a hurdle. Taking a series from 2D to full 3D is sometimes a challenge that causes a developer to fail, and has been seen with more than one popular franchise (Sonic the Hedgehog). When done correctly, tackling and overcoming these two challenges can put a game down in the history books as a milestone for a franchise. Pokemon Y for the 3DS will be another great.